If we learned one thing this week in Minnesota, it’s that if you wait long enough something’s gotta give. Spring arrived this week and the air nearly sizzles with wet and warmth and life. As it always is, something had to happen eventually.
Everywhere except Congress, of course.
But aside from the entertainment we get from “leaders”, there are other sources of news. Here are three stories Barataria has been all over which had interesting developments in the last week.
Pope Francis has always been a good newsmaker, but he hasn’t gotten much attention lately as we all wait his new encyclical on the environment. Given the church calendar, it probably has to wait until after Easter at this point.
But there have been a few rumblings about what we can expect from it. Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the apparent main author of the encyclical, had a few hints. He explained that the new work will build on the previous work, Evengelii Gaudium, which directed the faithful to work for an economy based on people, not money.
It will “explore the relationship between care for creation, integral human development and concern for the poor,” according to the cardinal. The Pope will seek to bring the “warmth of hope” to the wider debates on climate change and development, he said, while steering a path away from the “Herods” and “omens of destruction and death.”
The Pope himself did say something interesting while visiting his native Argentina. Noting that they have an election this year, he said “In the financing of electoral campaigns, many interests get into the mix, and then they send you the bill.” His solution? “Perhaps public financing would allow me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money. Everything needs to be transparent and clean.”
Not quite throwing the money changers out of the Temple, but close.
Speaking of money for campaigns, Hillary Clinton’s email server is an issue that won’t go away. This is bad news for Sec. Clinton, of course, but the path that we took to get here is fascinating. We can never forget that this is a mutation of the Benghazi Committee which is chasing down every single communication she ever wrote or received, waiting to comb over all of them for …. well, just about anything.
The problem with this story, if you’re Clinton, is that it won’t go away. It won’t go away because there are actually very serious issues with State Department material placed on an insecure server, clintonemail.com, which hackers are now circling.
Of course, all of this attention comes to her as a challenge to her presidential inevitability, which Republicans and more than a few Democrats are eager to torpedo. Is it a big scandal? Of course not, but everything involving the heir-apparent is a big deal. Just ask Prince Charles.
The problem for Clinton is, as it was in 2007 or so, her inevitability. Her ability to manage it in 2015 is not much better than it was eight years ago because she has not been able to make this go away. Consider this her first big test of the campaign – and so far she isn’t exactly passing. But, as we all know, time passes and so may she one day.
We could say “stay tuned to Hillary,” but you probably have no choice but to do so.
The last story is a strange one that perfectly illustrates why the key to evaluating the flood of information on the ‘net is to seek the source of the information you are presented with. This is a story that requires some explaination, so bear with us.
Among conspiracy minded people on the far left and right, the ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh story is one that the US and perhaps Israel created. Given that the US has inserted itself back into the Middle East and chaos has ensued, Yankee Imperialism(tm) has been the clear victor so far in the whole fracas. The Hinsight Conspiracy types have long looked for a clear connection between the rogue group and shadowy agents with an interest in chaos.
That may sound utterly ridiculous to you, and it is to most people. But many sites on the extreme recently ran with a story that Iraqi militia had captured CIA and Mossad (Israeli intellegence) agents when they over-ran an ISIL position. It was a short story without a lot of detail that fed directly into the conspiracy theorists’ darkest beliefs.
Where did it come from? The version of it with the earliest publication date (7 March) is on the website of Tasnim News Agency, which is run by the government of Iran. It says that it got the story from “Sama News Agency” in Iraq – but there is no record of any such news organization anywhere. It may exist, but it has left no fingerprints on the ‘net so far. There is not even another article or wikipedia entry mentioning it.
So what is the original source for this story? Apparently, there is none. It appears that the conspiracy theorists are being fed directly by the Iranian propaganda machine – which is happily giving them just what they want.
Seek the original source, everyone. For a clear, cold drink of truth there is no substitute.
These are just three stories that seemed to deserve an update as the northern hemisphere slowly drips its way towards Spring. There may be more updates worth reporting, but they make for a light update on a day when we’d all rather be outside.
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